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Improve your Forearm and Grip Endurance 👊


The BJJ Performance Tip of the Week | #038

Mobility🧘🏽‍♂️ •Strength 💪🏽 •Nutrition 🥑 •Interesting🧐

Edition: Friday, October 20th, 2023

If you’ve trained jiujitsu for long enough chances are you’ve experience the intense forearm burnout from a tough round of sparring. Combine this with the adrenalin fueled manic grip of a competition roll and you’ve got some burning forearms and 0 grip left.

Let’s talk about it…

What is happening when your grip gives out?

Your forearms and thus your “grips” experience muscular fatigue just like your biceps, chest, legs, shoulders etc.

When you’re engaging in an intense roll (competitions are the perfect example) you’re gripping as hard as you can for as long as you can. And due to the huge amount of adrenalin dump into your system it’s very common that people “over-grip” during comps which is why it can be a massive shock after your first comp when you realise after the round that your grips are completely fried.

How to improve your forearm and grip endurance

Grip strength training for isometric strength and grip endurance is an important part of a comprehensive jiujitsu training program.. Here’s some exercises to get jacked forearms and an unbreakable grip:

Exercise 1 - Suitcase Deadlift Isometric Hold

This quirky exercise can be difficult because you have to balance a barbell in one hand whilst also exerting maximal grip endurance to hold the bar steady.

I love it. Do 3-4 sets of 30s hold each side.

Exercise 2 - Farmers Carry

This exercise can be done single handed, two-handed, with a trap bar, dumbbells, or kettlebells, there’s no real “right or wrong” but I personally like to exercise with 2 dumbbells or kettlebells if you’ve got access to some heavy enough.

Do 3-4 sets of about 25-50m farmers carry (each side if it’s 1 handed).

Exercise 3 - Dead Hang

This exercise is the OG grip endurance burner. It’s quite simple but not easy, jump up onto a bar and hang there at maximal shoulder extension for as long as you can. A good time is >60s a great time is >120s, give it a go and you’ll probably be surprised that it’s harder than it looks.

Exercise 4 - Reverse Curls

This is exercise is most commonly used by gym-bros to get bigger biceps and thicker forearms but it can be a potent grip and forearm endurance exercise for our purposes as well. As we’re all about endurance and conditioning your forearms, I recommend increasing your rep range to 15-30+ reps for about 3-4 sets. This exercise will go well at the end of your regular training session.

Why I didn’t include towel/gi specific work

I have to address this…

I do not like using a gi or a towel during training. The reason is that generally speaking, it’s a massive waste of potential. Let’s think about it like this… If your primary focus in jiujitsu then your gym time should be dedicated to improving your weakest areas of performance or enhancing your strengths, right?

Say for example, you have programmed weighted overhand pull-ups 4 sets of 5 reps. If you replace these with “towel” or “gi” pull-ups instead (simply using a towel or a gi as your pull-up grip instead of the bar) then yeah okay you may be training more grip BUT your grips and hands will fatigue WELL before your back and lats, which it’s your back and lats that are the PRIMARY FOCUS of that lift in the first place, so you may as well replace that exercise out completely with a grip training exercise I mentioned above instead.

It doesn’t really make much sense to me. I think it falls into the category of “it looks more like our sports, so it should be better” but if you scratch below the surface, the logic starts to fall apart in my view #rantover

Final Thoughts

There are so many different grip strength and grip endurance exercises that you can include in your training. It’s my personal philosophy that grip strength training should be in every jiujitsu-specific training program.

If you want to improve your grip endurance, get strong for jiujitsu and reduce your risk of injury then check out BJJ Strong Online the ultimate jiujitsu performance resource.

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